Posted on Mar 10, 2007
$4.3m awarded in conductor's death
MICHAEL P. MAYKO [email protected]
Article Last Updated: 03/09/2007 02:43:33 PM EST
BRIDGEPORT — A federal jury awarded more than $4.3 million in damages to the estate of a Fairfield assistant conductor after finding Metro North responsible for the man's death in a 2004 accident.
The $4,344,053 award to the estate of Robert Ard Jr. constituted the largest jury verdict in Connecticut in any Metro-North accident, according to Charles C. Goetsch, who with George J. Cahill Jr. It was second to the $5.5 million the pair negotiated for the estate of Jeffrey Pieger, a Metro-North machinist from Milford killed in a March 5, 2002, accident at the railroad's New Haven yard.
The Pieger settlement was reached just hours after Ard, 46, of Montauk Street, Fairfield, was crushed to death when an engine ran over him March 10, 2004, during a car-switching operation in the Stamford yard.
"The jury determined that Metro North and its managers failed to properly supervised the yard crews in and enforce and follow its own safety rules," said Goetsch. Nancy Ledy-Gurren, a New York City lawyer who represented Metro-North could not be reached for comment.
It's expected the railroad will file a motion to set aside the verdict. However, such motions are rarely granted. Once that is denied, they may contest the verdict in the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
Evidence during the nearly two-week trial before U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall showed Ard was killed as third-shift workers were lining up trains for the morning commuter run.
assistant conductor, was working with an engineer and a conductor, as part of a three-man yard crew. However, the conductor had left the crew to work on another move while the engineer was backing up the train which ran over Ard.
The engineer, Phillip Waisonovitz, claimed Ard radioed him to make the move, but no other Metro North employee heard that.
Waisonovitz became emotionally distraught after learning he had run over Ard. He has been out of work on disability as his doctors diagnosed him with post traumatic stress disorder, since the accident. He also filed his own federal suit against the Railroad and Ard's estate blaming them for what happened. That suit is pending.